From Academic Kids

For the unrelated American charter/cargo airline, see Ryan International Airlines.

Template:Infobox Company Ryanair Template:Ise Template:Lse Template:Nasdaq is an airline based in Ireland. It is Europe's largest low-cost carrier, operating 209 low-fare routes to 94 destinations across 17 European countries. Over the years it has evolved into the world's most profitable airline [1] (http://web.archive.org/web/20040203173244/http%3A//www.ryanair.com/press/2004/jan/gen-en-280104.html), running at remarkable margins by relentlessly driving costs down. Ryanair has been characterised by rapid and continuing expansion, enabled by the deregulation of the air industry in Europe in 1997.

Ryanair is one of Europe's most controversial companies, praised and criticised in equal measure [2] (http://www.rte.ie/comments/ryanair.html). Its supporters praise its commitment to exceptionally low fares, its radical management, its populism, and its willingness to challenge what Ryanair calls the 'establishment' within the airline industry. Critics, meanwhile, have attacked its trade union policies [3] (http://www.eiro.eurofound.eu.int/2003/12/inbrief/eu0312204n.html), and have charged that it practises deceptive advertising [4] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3088311.stm). Moreover, Ryanair courted controversy in June 2005 by refusing to join other low-cost airlines in creating a sustainable aviation group tasked with reducing the environmental cost of air travel.


Code Data

  • IATA Code: FR
  • ICAO Code: RYR
  • Callsign: Ryanair


Early years

Ryanair was founded in 1985 by Irish businessman Tony Ryan. The airline began with a 15 seat turboprop aircraft flying between Waterford and London Gatwick with the aim of breaking the duopoly on London-Ireland flights at that time held by British Airways and Aer Lingus. In 1986 the company added a second route - flying Dublin-London Luton in competition to the BA/Aer Lingus duopoly for the first time. With two routes and two planes, they carried 82,000 passengers in one year.

Passenger numbers continued to increase, but the airline generally ran at a loss, and by 1991 was in need of restructuring. Michael O'Leary was charged with the task of making the airline profitable. Ryan encouraged him to visit the USA to study the 'low fares/no frills' model being used by Southwest Airlines. O'Leary quickly learnt that the key to low fares was a quick turn-around time, no frills and no business class.

Ryanair .

O'Leary returned convinced that a no-frills airline could make huge inroads into the national carrier-dominated European air market. In 1995, thanks to the adoption of a no-frills model, Ryanair celebrated its 10th birthday by carrying 2.25 million passengers. It had become the largest carrier on all its routes.

Deregulation and flotation

After EU deregulation of the air industry in Europe in 1997, Ryanair was ready to take on the continent. After a highly successful flotation of Ryanair on the Dublin Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ Stock exchanges, the airline launched services to Stockholm, Oslo, Paris and Charleroi near Brussels. Flush with new capital, the airline placed a massive US$2 billion order for 45 new Boeing 737-800 series aircraft in 1998. The airline was voted Airline of the Year by the Irish Transport Users Committee and voted Best Managed National Airline by International Aviation Week magazine.

Ever keen to drive costs down, the airline launched its website in 2000, with the aim of cutting flight prices by selling direct to passengers and excluding the costs imposed by travel agents. Within a year the website was handling three quarters of all bookings, and now accounts for 95% of the total.

Continental Europe

Ryanair launched a new hub of operation in Brussels Charleroi in 2001. Later that year, the airline ordered 155 new Boeing 737-800 series aircraft from Boeing at what was believed to be a substantial discount, to be delivered over eight years from 2002 to 2010. Of these 100 will have been delivered by the end of 2005. In 2002 Ryanair launched 26 new routes and established a base in Frankfurt-Hahn Airport, its European expansion firmly on track. In 2003, Ryanair announced the order of a further 100 new Boeing 737-800 series aircraft from Boeing, and in February a third continental base was opened at Milan-Bergamo in Italy.

In April Ryanair acquired its ailing competitor Buzz from KLM, at a knock-down price. Expansion continued apace with the launch of a base at Stockholm (Skavsta), Sweden. By the end of 2003, the airline flew 127 routes, of which 60 had opened in the previous 12 months. The airline launched two more bases in the first half of 2004, at Rome (Ciampino) and Barcelona (Girona), increasing the total to 11 hubs.

Recent history

During 2004, Michael O'Leary warned of a 'bloodbath' during the winter from which only two or three low-cost airlines would emerge, the expectation being that these would be Ryanair and easyJet. A modest loss of 3.3 million in the second quarter of 2004 was the airline's first recorded loss for 15 years, indicating turbulent times in the low fares market. However, the enlargement of the European Union in 2004 is expected to lead to more new routes as Ryanair and other budget airlines tap the markets of the EU accession countries. Since the accession countries joined the EU on 1 May 2004, Ryanair has opened new routes to three of the ten new EU member states.

In February 2005 Ryanair announced an order for 70 further Boeing 737-800 aircraft with an option for a further 70. This is expected to allow Ryanair to increase passenger numbers from the 34 million expected in 2005 to 70 million in 2011 and creating 2,500 new jobs. Some of these aircraft would be deployed at Ryanair's 12 European bases, others to 10 new bases they intend to establish over the next seven years. The aircraft will be delivered without window shades, seat back recline and seat back pockets, which result in savings of several hundred thousand dollars per aircraft and give continued savings through reduced cleaning and repair costs.

Growth and expansion

Missing image
Ryanair passenger numbers

Ryanair has grown massively since its creation in 1985, from a small airline flying the short hop to London from Ireland. The driver of the growth has been Ryanair's CEO, Michael O'Leary. After taking the rapidly growing airline public in 1997 he used the money raised to expand the airline into a pan-European carrier. Revenues have risen from 231 million in 1998 to some € 843 million in 2003, and net profits have increased from € 48 million to € 239 million over the same period. In an industry where the survival rate is 1 in 10 and where even the giants such as American Airlines and Delta struggle to keep in the black, Ryanair's success has confounded many industry analysts. However, it has been consistent with the growth of other no-frills airlines, such as Southwest and JetBlue, since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Ryanair's passenger numbers have grown by up to 25% every year for the best part of the last decade. Carrying under 0.7 million annually in its early years, passenger figures grew to 21.4 million in 2003. The rapid addition of new routes and new hubs has enabled this growth in passenger numbers, and Ryanair is now among the largest carriers on European routes. In August 2004, the airline carried 20% more passengers within Europe than British Airways did.


Ryanair has been heavily criticised for many of its practices in the past. In a number of incidents it has responded stubbornly to relatively trivial matters, often to make a point about the constant need to avoid adding "frills" to its service.

Critics have accused Ryanair of poor treatment of customers whose flights have been cancelled [5] (http://www.airlinequality.com/Forum/ryan.htm). The airline refuses to provide accommodation or meal vouchers when flights are cancelled or delayed.

Ryanair is often accused of flying to airports which, while cheap, are too far away from the cities they say they are serving. For example, the airline used to advertise a service to "Copenhagen", Denmark which actually flew to Malmö, in Sweden. This service is now advertised as Malmö. Legal actions forced name changes on routes previously referred to as "Düsseldorf (Niederrhein)" and "St. Etienne (Lyons)", but in other cases court actions have upheld the designated name of the route — this was the case for Frankfurt Hahn, over 100 km from central Frankfurt.

Missing image
Ryanair Boeing 737-200 landing

Also criticised are what are seen as vitriolic attacks on opponents, notably former Irish Minister for Transport Mary O'Rourke (1997-2002), who was personally ridiculed in a series of controversial newspaper advertisements when she refused to break up the state monopoly which then ran Irish airports, Aer Rianta (now largely restructured). (The break-up of Aer Rianta remains a high profile demand for Michael O'Leary. It is due to be implemented during 2005 under the State Airports Act 2004).

Ryanair does not employ an advertising agency, instead producing all its advertising material in-house. Michael O'Leary often states that the airline goes to extremes to make a point, an approach which has resulted in Ryanair's advertising occasionally being considered offensive [6] (http://www.brandchannel.com/features_effect.asp?pf_id=49) [7] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3456423.stm).

The airline has been criticised for the age of its elderly Boeing 737-200 aircraft, which were bought second hand from Lufthansa and Britannia Airways. These aircraft are now over 22 years old and some industry observers believe that Ryanair has pushed them beyond their usable service life. Ryanair argues that the planes are well maintained, but has already scrapped a number of them for technical reasons. The airline announced in October 2004 that the remaining -200s will be disposed of by November 2005.

Ryanair receives subsidies from some European airports, a situation which has been investigated by the European Commission. The EC believes that subsidies from state-owned airports are a breach of European Union competition rules. In February 2004 the European Commission ruled that Charleroi airport gave Ryanair illegal subsidies and ordered the airline to repay roughly € 4 million of subsidies. Walloon authorities who offered the subsidies were considering appealing against the ruling because of the roughly € 45 million that the airline route brings to the area every year.

Ryanair has also come under fire from unions representing workers in the airline industry for refusing to recognise trade unions, and allegations of poor working conditions. Staff are banned from charging their own mobile phones at work to reduce the company's electricity bill [8] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/beds/bucks/herts/4471833.stm), even though the cost savings by such measures are insignificant.

Several successful actions have been brought against the company: On 25 January 2005 the Irish Labour Court guaranteed an investigation into allegations of victimisation of staff who wished to join a trade union [9] (http://www.ryan-be-fair.org/news/ialpa.htm). In March of the same year, a Belgian court ruled that two sacked Belgian cabin staff who had been working out of the airport of Charleroi were entitled to protection under Belgian law, not Irish law as Ryanair had claimed [10] (http://www.itfglobal.org/press-area/index.cfm/pressdetail/354).

The airline has come under heavy criticism in the past for its poor treatment of disabled passengers. In 2002 it refused to provide wheelchairs for disabled passengers at Stansted Airport, hugely angering disabled rights groups [11] (http://www.drc-gb.org/newsroom/newsdetails.asp?print=true&id=773&section=1), although the airline argued that this provision was the responsibility of the airport authority. Ryanair state that 87 of the 93 airports they fly to provide wheelchairs to those requiring them. A court ruling in 2004 judged that the responsibility should be shared by the airline and the airport owners [12] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4112791.stm).

In 2002 Ryanair reneged on a promise of free flights given as a prize to the airline's one millionth passenger, Jane O'Keeffe. She received the prize in 1988, but the airline refused to carry her free of charge on a flight in 2002. The woman eventually went to court and won an award of £43,098. [13] (http://www.rte.ie/news/2002/0228/ryanair.html) [14] (http://www.ananova.com/business/story/sm_611142.html)


Among Ryanair's main low-cost competitors are easyJet, Air Berlin, Germanwings and Transavia. In 2004 approximately 60 new low-cost airlines were formed. Despite traditionally being a full-service airline, Aer Lingus began to adopt a low-fares strategy in 2002, leading to much more intense competition with Ryanair on Irish routes – Ryanair's most profitable.

Missing image
Ryanair's network, as of March 2005

In September 2004, Ryanair's biggest competitor, easyJet, announced routes to the Republic of Ireland for the first time – until then easyJet had never competed directly with Ryanair on its home ground. easyJet does fly from Aldergrove in Northern Ireland, but Ryanair does not operate there. The last low-cost airline to compete directly with Ryanair on the UK/Ireland routes was Go Fly – which had to pull out due to mounting losses.


Main article: Ryanair destinations

Ryanair currently serves about 200 routes between 103 airports. Its main hub is London Stansted Airport. Ryanair has other bases throughout Europe, at Barcelona Girona, Dublin (DUB), Frankfurt am Main (HHN), London Luton Airport, Milan (BGY), Prestwick (PIK), Rome (CIA), Shannon International Airport and Stockholm Skavsta Airport.

Most smaller airports Ryanair operates to are located farther from the city centres than their main airports. One exception is Gothenburg, Sweden, where Ryanair flies to the town's City Airport, 14 km from city centre. That's 11 km closer than the main Landvetter Airport.

Of all Ryanair's routes, the Dublin-London route remains both the busiest and the most profitable. This is largely due to the number of Irish people who live in the UK – and increasingly the number of Irish who use the route to make connecting flights to other places in Europe.


The Ryanair fleet consists of the following aircraft (at April 2005):

It currently has firm orders for an additional 225 Boeing 737-800 aircraft by 2010, with options on a further 193.

External Links

See also



eo:Ryanair es:Ryanair fi:Ryanair fr:Ryanair nl:Ryanair no:Ryanair sv:Ryanair Template:Airlines of Ireland


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